Therecomesatiger Unleashed in Commonwealth Turf

Therecomesatiger, ridden by Mark Guidry, passed early leader T.D. Vance in the stretch and drew away to a 1 3/4length victory in Sunday's $174,900 Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

Scoring his first career stakes win and avenging his only career loss, Therecomesatiger sped 1 1/16 miles on "yielding" turf in 1:43.94 and paid $16.40, $8.60, and $5.80. Cosmonaut, with David Flores aboard, rallied for second and returned $12.40 and $6.80. Drum Major, ridden by Jose Santos, was another three-quarters of a length farther back in third and paid $8.60.

The victory improved the career record of Charles Patton's gelded son of Tiger Ridge to 4-0-1 in five races. The $108,438 winner's purse more than doubled his career earnings to $173,238. He had suffered his only career loss for trainer Tom Proctor in a third-place finish to T. D. Vance in the Bryan Station Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 13.

The result made for a happy return to the saddle for Guidry, who suffered soreness after he was unseated from a horse on Friday and canceled his mounts on Saturday to recuperate.

"I'm a little sore, but not that bad," he said. "This sure did loosen me up a bit."

Guidry said Therecomesatiger had struggled with Keeneland's turf course when he lost to T. D. Vance in the Bryan Station, but handled the footing on the Churchill Downs grass much better.

"He tried hard (at Keeneland), but he was just kind of spinning his wheels – especially around the eighth pole on home, and he still ran a great race," he said. "Today, we stalked the one horse that won the Keeneland race (T.D. Vance). Turning for home, I got him to turn over and inched up there and he just exploded. He had great acceleration."

T.D. Vance, the second choice in the Commonwealth Turf, faded in the stretch to finish fifth in the field of nine under jockey John Velazquez. Favored Rebel Rebel, ridden by Edgar Prado, finished seventh after a ground-saving trip.

T.D. Vance, who had led most of the way in winning three consecutive stakes races coming into the Commonwealth Turf, flashed his customary speed from his rail post. He led the field through modest fractions of :24.32 for the opening quarter, :49.42 for the half-mile, and six furlongs in 1:14.70. Guidry and Therecomesatiger sat just off the frontrunner's flank throughout and overtook the tiring leader just past the eighth pole. Cosmonaut moved between horses from the middle of the pack to rally for second, while Drum Major – who had finished fourth in the Bryan Station – also came on late to place third.

Prado offered no excuse for the favored Rebel Rebel, who sat just behind the winner in third after six furlongs but faltered in the drive.

"When Mark turned his horse loose, I tried to follow him but he didn't accelerate like I thought that he would," said Prado. "I'm real disappointed that he didn't run down those horses."

Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano won four races on the Sunday card. Bejarano took home the early daily double, winning the first race with Plaid ($3.40) for trainer Dallas Stewart then piloting Mt Lookout ($3) to the winner's circle for trainer Greg Foley. Bejarano was aboard Vinery Stables' Aristocratic Lady ($6.60) for trainer Todd Pletcher to take the day's sixth race and Robert LaPenta's Little Cliff ($11.80) for trainer Nick Zito in the eighth race.

Bejarano has 17 wins during the fall meet. Robby Albarado is in second place with 14 victories.

(Chart, Equibase)